Federal officials are investigating a new multi-state foodborne illness outbreak with turkey products identified as the likely source.

In a four-word listing on its outbreak investigation table, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service revealed the outbreak: “Salmonella Hadar, turkey suspect.” A spokesman for the FSIS told Food Safety News this afternoon that additional details would have to come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A spokeswoman from the CDC confirmed that the agency is investigating the outbreak, which involves Salmonella Hadar infections. She told Food Safety News that as of March 15 there had been 22 patients reported across nine states. She did not indicate when the investigation began or when the first person became ill. The agency has not posted an outbreak notice.

“People are reporting eating a variety of turkey products but a specific brand or type has not yet been identified. CDC is collecting additional data to determine the source of infections,” according to the spokeswoman for the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Turkey has increasingly been identified in food poisoning outbreaks in the United States in recent years. Outbreaks in 2018 and 2019 involved Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Schwarzengrund, respectively. The 2019 outbreak sickened at least seven people in three states according to the CDC. 

The 2018 outbreak sickened at least 358 people in the United States across 42 states. One death was confirmed, according to the CDC’s outbreak information. The illnesses were linked to raw human and pet foods from a variety of sources, including Jennie-O. That company recalled products. At the same time in 2018, officials in Canada investigated an outbreak of Salmonella Reading linked to poultry products. Testing showed the same outbreak strain on both sides of the border. 

About Salmonella infections
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not usually look, smell, or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any turkey products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.

Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)